BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns' brain trust has hoped that rookie wide receiver Greg Little would emerge and show signs of being the Browns' top receiver. He had a breakout game with the Cardinals with five receptions for 131 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown catch. On the season, Little has 57 receptions for 669 yards (11.7 yards per catch average) with two touchdowns. For his production last week, Little was nominated for the Pepsi/NFL Rookie of the Week Award.
Pat Shurmur downplayed Little's game last week.
"Greg made some plays (against Arizona), didn't drop the ball," Shurmur said. "So, I think that's a step forward."
Little leads the Browns receivers with 20 more catches than tight end Ben Watson, who finished his season with 37. The 76-yard touchdown was the Browns longest play from scrimmage since Braylon Edwards scored on a 78-yard pass from Derek Anderson in 2007.
Currently, Little has the second-most receptions in Browns history for a rookie. Eric Metcalf totaled 54 in 1989. He needs nine receptions in the last two games to tie the record that is currently held by Kevin Johnson, who had 66 receptions in 1999.
Little has caught at least one pass in all 14 games he's played. He has accounted for 34 of Browns first downs, 32 receiving. In the last 11 games, Little has 49 receptions for 595 yards with two touchdowns. He also has three rushes for 15 yards.
Shurmur likes the progress that he's seen in Little.
"Greg had a good game and I think he's developed," Shurmur said. "I didn't really know where he would be at the end of the season. Part of being a pro is being able to deal with success and games that aren't so good and being able to rebound from that.
"He has had to do that and now, for him the key is to be more and more consistent. "
Looks like Seneca Again: Shurmur stopped short of naming QB Seneca Wallace the starter for this week's game, but it looks more and more likely that Wallace will make his second start for QB Colt McCoy.
"Seneca will take the reps (in practice) and Colt McCoy is making progress, but it's too early to tell," Shurmur said. "At this point, I'm not ready to say (Wallace is the starter), but more than likely he'll be the starter."
Shurmur said McCoy was in Berea and went through the treatment process and went through team meetings. Shurmur said McCoy won't practice Tuesday and he wasn't on the field during the time the media watches practice.
"It was the first time (since the concussion), McCoy went through meetings," Shurmur said. "His spirits are good and he's anxious to get back out there, but he understands the process."
Shurmur said he wasn't ready to put McCoy on injured reserve, despite just one game left after Saturday.
Smith, Brown to IR; Sign Gronkowski: The Browns placed two more players on season-ending injured reserve. TE Alex Smith suffered a shoulder injury and LB Titus Brown suffered a knee injury. Shurmur said that Brown will have surgery, but didn't think that Smith would need surgery.
To replace the pair, the Browns added LB Brian Smith from the practice squad to the active roster and signed TE Dan Gronkowski.
Smith was on the Browns practice squad for the past three weeks after spending the preseason with the Browns. Gronkowski was originally drafted in the seventh-round by the Lions in 2009 and he has played in 19 NFL games with five starts. He has nine receptions for 69 yards. He is wearing No. 87.
Gronkowski has played for the Lions, Broncos and most recently the Patriots. This season, Gronkowski played in five games for New England with one start. His brother, Rob, is also a tight end with the Patriots and having a record-breaking season. He also has another brother in the NFL, FB Chris Gronkowski.
The Browns added WR Torrey Grissett and LB Craig Robertson to the practice squad. Neither player was drafted nor has played in the NFL previously.
Shurmur High on Norwood: If WR Jordan Norwood doesn't play in the final two games, Shurmur said he's seen enough of him to know he has a future with the Browns.
"I think he has shown up extremely well and has steadily made more plays as the year has gone along," Shurmur said. "I think he has a future with us."
Norwood suffered a concussion against the Cardinals in the third quarter and is not practicing Tuesday. He has 23 receptions for 268 yards (11.7 avg.) and a touchdown. His season long reception was for 51 yards. He had three receptions for 21 yards against Arizona before he left the game.
Norwood has played in 14 games with four starts.
Taste of Rice: RB Ray Rice torched the Browns for 205 yards in the prior meeting with the Ravens on Dec.4, but Shurmur said he feels the Browns run defense has improved as of late.
"That's one of the things I remembered about that game," Shurmur said. "(Rice) had a huge impact on the game. I think we have tightened up in that area the last couple of weeks."
Shurmur said the Browns have to slow Rice down.
"That's the goal--to minimize his effect on the game," Shurmur said. "We have done some things schematically and the guys have to play better."
Marecic, Cribbs Back: FB Owen Marecic and WR Josh Cribbs were back at practice after missing last week's game with a concussion and Cribbs with a groin injury. LB Ben Jacobs and WR Jordan Norwood suffered concussions against the Cardinals and did not practice. DB T.J. Ward (foot) was not on the field during the time the media viewed practice.